So they adjourned what they'd never have resolved with clear minds anyway until next year.
They'll resume the hearing on Jan. 15.
The council wanted to hear from the applicants and the public ahead of a vote on a proposed Chevron station and Extra Mile convenience store on the 2001 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard site where Fairfax Gas closed shop about two years ago.
The council had their chance to grill applicant Arash Salkhi and got to hear some comments and questions from the public.
But the hearing started late.
The swearing in of Mayor David Weinsoff and Vice Mayor Larry Bragman and a proclamation issued for retiring Ross Valley Fire Chief Roger Meagor was first.
The hearing didn't start until after 8 p.m., and went on for more than four hours.
Well after midnight, an engaged citizenry that showed up at 7 p.m. was already starting to trickle out of the meeting.
"A lot of the community didn't have a chance to speak," Weinsoff said. "They have to get up in the morning and go to work."
The council has work to do too.
Weinsoff said the council sought confirmation from attorneys that they don't need to rush to a decision.
"There's no rush to judgment here," Weinsoff said. "The council had many questions of the applicant and the community raised a great number of questions.
"Those (questions) all need to get answered."
The council will need time to process those answers. None of the council members have yet stated their position on the proposal publicly.
The proposal has the blessings of the Department of Planning and Building Services, which issued a staff report in September.
But a vocal opposition has emerged that's pressuring the council to reject the proposal.
A group calling itself “No Chevron in Fairfax” has launched a petition that aims to sway the council to reject the commission’s recommendations.
They say the two locally owned gas stations Fairfax already has are enough, and that approving a Chevron station would open the floodgates to Starbucks and Chipotles and other chain businesses driving out locals.
The controversy is expected to drag on.
Weinsoff said it's unlikely the council will move on the proposal at the Jan. 15 meeting.
"I would suspect that the next meeting would not close the door," he said.
"There's a lot of data that we anticipate coming back at us in January and I think that there may have to be some more consideration and some more conversations.
"There were so many questions."